CRAZY GOOD: Tiger Woods jumped up early in Sunday's championship match of the WGC-Accenture Match Play event and never looked back, drubbing Stewart Cink, 8 and 7, in the finale. It was Woods' third Match Play title and 15th career WGC event title overall.
Let's just state the facts here and then you can re-read them over and over until it starts to sink in: Three starts in 2008 - three wins; Has won six of his last seven PGA TOUR starts; 63rd career TOUR win, moving him past Arnie, within one of Hogan and nine back of Jack; And this was his 15th WGC title, staggering when you consider that these are fields comprised of the best of the best. Perspective? The rest of the world has combined for 12 WGC event wins. Grand Slam in 2008? Crazy yes, but crazy good he is.
EARLY EXITS: Ernie Els and Phil Mickelson got the weekend off after early losses at the WGC-Match Play. Els, one of four No. 1 seeds, got hammered by Jonathan Byrd, 6 and 5, in his first round match up, while Mickelson fell, 2 and 1, at the hands of Stuart Appleby in the round of 32.
The Big Easy probably regrets his late entry into this tournament; but all things considered the South African actually performed as expected when you take into account that he has lost in the first round of this event four out of seven times. Els will deserve all the criticism he gets. Mickelson, on the other hand, does not. Phil shot the second best round of the day, 7 under, in his match. The best round, naturally, was shot by Appleby. Still, Lefty needs to improve his lackluster match play performance, particularly with the Ryder Cup just around the corner.
THE WEEKLEY NEWS: Boo Weekley may have lost to Woody Austin in the third round this past week, but per usual he made news in and around the course in each of his matches, the best copy coming from his opening-round match with Martin Kaymer.
On the very first hole of his first WGC-Match Play event, Weekley learned one of the most basic lessons of the match play format - the ability to concede a putt to your opponent. Kaymer, Boo's Rd. 1 competitor, left a birdie putt a foot short on the opening hole and waited for Boo to give him the natural, 'That's good' comment. It didn't come. Boo was just being Boo and had no idea that there was a situation in golf where you could just pick up your ball without holing out. Said Weekley, weakly afterwards, “I mean, after I told him, ‘Hey, man, I didn’t know the rule.’ He was OK with that.” As are we, Boo.
HOT PINK!: Paula Creamer staged a remarkable, late round rally to edge Jeong Jang and Annika Sorenstam to win the Fields Open in Hawaii. Birdies on four of her last five holes - including a 5-footer on the event's final hole - vaulted Creamer into the winner's circle for the fifth time in her young LPGA career.
Wow, what a start for Carolyn Bivens and the LPGA Tour. First, Annika Sorenstam wins the lid-lifter last week in the Hawaiian Islands and then Creamer, who along with Annika is one of the tour's most marketable stars, wins the following week while still in paradise. Next up? World No. 1 Lorena Ochoa finally joins the fray with her season debut at the inaugural HSBC Women's Champions event in Singapore. Yes, these girls do indeed 'Rock!'
A WIE BIT RUSTY: Michelle Wie made her 2008 LPGA debut in her native Hawaii and fired an opening round 3-under 69 that put her into early contention. She followed it up with a 1-over 73 in Rd. 2 and then stumbled home with a 6-over 78 to finish a full 20 strokes behind winner Creamer.
Hard to judge by just one tournament, and the fact that it was her first competitive round in about five months, but the now 18-year-old freshman at Stanford did at least make the cut - the first time since last year's Evian Masters in July. But the good vibe was quickly doused with that 78 which put her dead last amongst those who made the cut.
GAY AND MERRY IN MEXICO: Brian Gay used a flawless third-round 8-under 62 en route to his first-ever PGA TOUR victory at the Mayakoba Golf Classic in Mexico . Gay, a 10-year TOUR veteran cruised to the win over runner-up John Merrick in the TOUR's opposite field event of the WGC-Match Play.
Although it was a breakthrough win for Gay, the fans in Mexico were no doubt hoping for a win from their native son Esteban Toledo. Toledo, playing in his 282nd PGA TOUR event and still seeking his first victory, thrilled the locals with a great third round that included six birdies and an eagle to climb into contention. Despite chants of 'Mexican Tiger!' from his supporters, Toledo was unable to muster the goods on Sunday and finished 11th.
SKINS GAME:Fuzzy Zoeller and Peter Jacobsen overcame a huge Day 1 deficit to overtake Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson to win the Champions Tour Skins Game. The duo split a cool $320,000.
Not a bad gig if you can get it - play golf for a living, travel to places like Maui, Hawaii, and play alongside the likes of Nicklaus and Watson, Palmer, and Player. Jake summed it up nicely, "These guys in this thing are Hall of Famers. These are legends." And the money ain't bad either.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Greg Norman made a rare appearance on the PGA TOUR this week at Riviera Maya in Mexico, a course he designed; It was announced that Tiger Woods' PGA TOUR event would get an extra year at Congressional Country Club as it will again host the 2009 AT&T National.
It's always a treat to see Norman back out on the course playing golf, but his first hand knowledge of the layout in Mexico apparently didn’t help the 52-year-old as he missed the cut; Tiger has said that he wants Congressional to be the permanent home for his tournament, but with 2011 U.S. Open coming to the famed Blue Course Woods will need to look elsewhere for 2010 as the USGA gets Congressional ‘U.S. Open ready.’
Contributions from writers and editors on the Golf Channel Digital team.
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